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Lawyer Mutunga nominated for CJ post

Friday May 13 2011

The names of Dr Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza have been sent to parliament for vetting for the positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice respectively after they were nominated by the Judicial Service Commission and ratified by President Kibaki in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Photo/FILE The names of Dr Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza have been sent to parliament for vetting for the positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice respectively after they were nominated by the Judicial Service Commission and ratified by President Kibaki in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. 

By PAUL OGEMBA

The Judicial Service Commission has nominated lawyers Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza for the positions of Kenya's Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice respectively.

The names have been forwarded to President Kibaki, who will then submit them to Parliament for approval.

If the House approves the names, the two will await formal appointment by the President.

However, in the event Parliament rejects the nominees the process will start afresh.

In their choice of the two, JSC chairperson Christine Mango said they had picked renown reformers, a man and a woman of impeccable record, integrity and sound legal grounding.

“We have picked people who will reform the justice system and our judiciary. They are a man and a woman we as the Judicial Service Commission have full faith, confidence and trust,” said Prof Mango.

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She said the commission was looking for candidates who will lead by example, persons of great depth of legal and constitutional learning, whose integrity is impeccable and beyond reproach, and who have a record of independence and cannot be influenced by political pressure.

“We wanted someone who can provide leadership to the courts and has shown passion and zeal to help Kenyans realise the dream in the new Constitution, especially its values of equality, justice, fundamental rights and freedoms; and a commitment to the rule of law,” she stated.

She said that the commission was satisfied with the choice of Dr Mutunga due to his academic records and struggle for reforms in the country’s political history.

“He is a former law school lecturer, a former chairman of the Law Society of Kenya and a renown reformer in the political struggle of our country. He has also practiced law for over three decades,” said Prof Mango.

In their choice of Ms Baraza for the post of deputy Chief Justice, the commission cited her academic records and legal reforms activism. Ms Baraza has a Masters degree in Law and is presently a PhD student at the University of Nairobi.

“She is the vice chairperson of the Kenya Law Reform Commission and former chairperson of FIDA. She is an advocate of the High Court and practiced law for over three decades,” explained Prof Mango.

Prof Mango added that in the two candidates, the Judicial Service Commission had seen the attributes they were looking for when they started the interviews two weeks ago.

Dr Mutunga beat a field, which included Court of Appeal judges Justices Riaga Omollo, Samuel Bosire, Alnashir Visram and Joseph Nyamu.

Also eyeing the CJ post were High Court Judges Kihara Kariuki, Mbogholi Msagha, Mary Ang'awa and Kalpana Rawal.

Also interviewed for the post was International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) Judge Lee Muthoga.

On her part, Ms Baraza saw off High Court Judges justices Roselyne Nambuye, Mary Kasango, Hannah Okwengu, and Martha Koome. Lawyer Gladys Shollei also went through the rigorous interview process.

Sports and Youth Affairs assistant minister Kabando wa Kabando welcomed the nominations.

"This is the greatest day for Kenya. It is a milestone, a radical shift from the old order," said Mr Kabando.

In a statement, he said, the declaration of Dr Willy Mutunga as proposed Chief Justice is “hugely phenomenally inspiring” and that of Ms Nancy Baraza deputy CJ “very refreshing.”